Father made abused daughter pray

Last updated 15:02 31/10/2010

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A Christian father made his young daughter pray for forgiveness with him after he had sexually abused her.

The man was a church official at the time, prompting Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber to highlight the hypocrisy of his conduct - working with Christian youth while abusing his daughter from the age of five to 11 years, Christchurch Court News website reported.

The girl, now aged 20, read her victim impact statement at her father's sentencing, sometimes in tears but dismissing him strongly at the end.

She said: "He wrecked my life and destroyed my family. I have no love for him. I don't care about him anymore.''

The 45-year-old man's name must remain suppressed - a request from his family - as he begins a three year four month jail term on five indecency charges against the girl.

His daughter said she lost all respect for the church, God and the Bible as a result of her father's offending.

"He was supposed to be Christian but look at all the evil he was doing.'' She said he looked like a monster to her. He would make her pray with him for forgiveness after the sexual abuse, but she knew she had not done anything wrong.

"I wanted Dad to say what he had done but he just lied and never took responsibility.'' She told the court how her life had deteriorated.

She became withdrawn and eventually resorted to drugs and alcohol, missing school, causing pain for her mother.

The mother, who had tried to take her own life after the abuse was discovered, told the court she felt like a failure as a mother.

She said the man was praying all the time and asking God for forgiveness.

"In the last three years he has made our lives hell, admitting what he did and then minimising it.''

Defence counsel Steve Hembrow said the man accepted he was the cause of the tragedy for the whole family.

"He cannot understand how he moved from a loving capable parent to an abuser of his daughter.''

Since the offending ended nine years ago he had undergone counselling. Mr Hembrow asked that the man's jail sentence not be "crushing''.

Judge Erber said it was not possible to be unmoved by hearing the victim impact statements read in court.

The judge noted that the man's conduct had been known about within the family for some time, and he had told the probation officer that he felt he had been blackmailed by his former wife holding her knowledge of what happened over his head.

He ruled out a home detention sentence, jailing the man for three years four months after describing his hypocrisy as an aggravating feature and referring to his conduct as being "as gross a breach of trust as possible''.

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- NZPA

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